Social media gods: More powerful than an all-powerful government?

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The late 19th century was a period known as “the Gilded Age” in America … as Andrew Carnegie, a steel magnate, and the oil baron John D Rockefeller … wielded massive power through business, political efforts and philanthropy.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Yet even Carnegie, whose ruthlessness earned him a reputation as a “robber baron”, would have been amazed by the power the heads of technology firms wield today, according to the Carnegie biographer David Nasaw. “Carnegie could never have imagined the kind of power Zuckerberg has,” said Nasaw, a history professor at City University of New York. “Politics today is less relevant than it has ever been in our entire history. These CEOs are more powerful than they’ve ever been. The driving force of social change today is no longer government at all.”

Tech CEOs have spent 2016 wading into politics when it suits their own ends, and even going head-to-head with the U.S. government. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, opened the company’s annual developer conference by calling out the anti-immigration stance of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. …

Facebook employees have asked Zuckerberg whether they should actively work to defeat Trump, according to leaked documents given to the tech site Gizmodo on Friday. More than 1.04 billion people use Facebook every day, and for many it has become their most important news source.


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